Creative La. Speaker Scott Olivier on Entrepreneurialism
Lafayette-based Skycraper Holding Company makes file storage products for all types of businesses. But the company started with an online file storage program designed for musicians on the road. Laptop Roadie was inspired by CEO Scott Eric Olivier's own career as a touring artist.
WRKF's Tegan Wendland talked to him about being a young entrepreneur in Louisiana.
WENDLAND: What exactly does Laptop Roadie do?
OLIVIER: What it was designed to do was actually enable me to store the musical information that I would use on concert tours remotely, so that when I shipped the computers and the data that I needed to use to either record those concerts or play back those concerts, it would be insusceptible to damage to x-rays or security or theft. Basically having it in a secure location somewhere else in the world where I can get to it if I need it, and it grew into several other businesses because, really every business needs a way to back up and store information from a non-local location in case of an emergency, or just to have a safe copy of it.
WENDLAND: What kind of struggles did you face living in Lafayette and coming from a small town?
OLIVIER: I don't really think it did anything but help me because, you know, when I started playing in 1983 I was nine or ten years old and there was nothing really here so there really was no one to tell me, "no, you can't do that," was, I think, very important. I didn't realize that until several years later when people started to ask me, "How do you do all of these things and how to you play so many instruments?" and I really believe it's because no one ever told me that I shouldn't.
WENDLAND: So what kind of advice would you offer to young entrepreneurs in Louisiana today?
OLIVIER: I would say, definitely, there are a lot of advantages to Louisiana - especially for start-ups and entrepreneurs. The tax credits we have here are literally second to none in the nation. This year, for the first year time, my group of companies, Skyscraper Holding Company, has been afforded the ability to grow because of these tax credits. That is something that you cannot get at this level anyplace else in the United States, and it's also the reason that we were number three last year in the nation for films and movies and television production, because our credits are so generous and we were third in the nation only behind California and New York for shooting movies, films, documentaries; basically any media that was done in the United States.
WENDLAND: For those that don't know, can you tell me in one sentence what exactly it is that Skyscraper Holding Company does?
OLIVIER: We advance technology through the use of high-speed internet. It's one big vertical. So we take everything from data backup and storage to the use of fiber optics and how that increases our bandwidth and the ability to store more information at faster speeds.
WENDLAND: Lastly, you've worked with many prominent musicians - what's the most memorable experience you've had as a young entrepreneur, and if being self-employed has put you at an advantage to have some of the diverse experiences that you have?
OLIVIER: Self-employment has definitely put me at a distinct advantage. It's not for people who don't completely believe in what they're doing, it's also not for people who are delusional in any way, because if something can fail or go wrong, it will. Definitely the most memorable of my musical career would probably be Michael Jackson or Van Halen, working with those two artists, and being able to morph what would have been more than four years with Michael into creating Laptop Roadie and the Skyscraper Holding Company, and now being able to still work with the same clients that I always have with music, but also have businesses that can facilitate them to where I don't have to be on tour and only work with one of them at a time and self-employment was the only way for me to be able to do that. It is, I guess you could say, kind of a dangerous game, but at the same time I think that it's, for people that are artistic and business-minded, it's kind of the only way to go.
WENDLAND: Thank you so much for your time today.
OLIVIER: Absolutely, thanks for having me.